It’s been a long wait for Austin FC to truly welcome their No. 9, and Moussa Djitte rewarded that patience on Sunday evening with his first MLS goal in a stunning 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy at Q2 Stadium.
The Senegalese youth international was signed June 30 from French side Grenoble to a U22 Initiative deal, but didn’t make his first appearance until two months later after he obtained his visa. During that time, Wolff tried to make due by playing wingers Cecilio Dominguez and Jon Gallagher centrally to mixed results.
The 21-year-old earned his first start on Sept. 18, a 45-minute shift against the San Jose Earthquakes, and on Sunday followed up his own shot's rebound to give Austin a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute. It was Djitte's sixth appearance for the expansion club and longest runout.
Austin head coach Josh Wolff has long lamented the lack of a true striker in his system following long-term injuries to Danny Hoesen and Aaron Schoenfeld.
“Having Moussa is extremely important. We haven’t had a striker since like Week 5, Week 6,” Wolff said after the match. “Of course, that’s something that’s been talked about a lot. We’ve utilized Cecilio in different ways and Jon Gallagher in different ways, but you can see what it means when you have a real striker who can occupy center backs, who has a physicality, who plays on both sides of the line. It’s very different.”
GOAL: Moussa Djitté, Austin FC - 64th minute
Through a translator, Djitte said he's still getting acclimated to his new teammates, despite the language barrier that exists.
“On the field it’s all one language – it’s soccer,” he said. “People like [Sebastian] Druissi and Diego [Fagundez] who are experienced players, as we play more games together we’re going to get that connection.”
Djitte's opener helped Austin FC snap a five-match losing streak. They remain at the bottom of the Western Conference table with 22 points from 26 matches with eight matches remaining in the regular season.
“We’re just going to go up from here, work hard as a group and get some results,” Djitte said.